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Broker Focus: James Carson Lee, Sentry Advice

We aim to amplify the voices of all intermediaries, up and down the country. This month we profile James Carson Lee, partner at Sentry Advice

Sum up your firm in a few sentences

Our mission is to be a human that says ‘yes’ in an industry of ‘computer says no’, with our ethos firmly rooted in being independently different. We’ve been helping our clients with independent, whole-of-market advice since 2001 and house several mortgage brokers, all of whom have skills in specialist areas. We take great pride in our ability to surprise our clients with our speed and positive attitude in getting them the mortgage they are after, regardless of their circumstances.

What led you to become a broker?

Apart from the glitz and glamour of mortgage-broker life, it was a natural career choice. I’ve always been a staunch custodian of my clients’ best interests, even back in the days when I was selling mobile phones at Carphone Warehouse (I never did meet Paul Potts but I was there for the first iPhone!). I really do try to treat people how I would want to be treated. When clients are faced with large financial decisions – for probably the largest purchase in their life – it’s great to be the person helping.

What are the biggest issues facing you as a broker?

With the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the expectation that the Bank of England will further raise the base rate and the government’s decision to eliminate mortgage interest tax relief for private landlords, our issues are certainly being reflected on a macro level. Despite these overarching challenges, we are very buoyant about the future of the industry and have form in adapting well to the changes we face.

What one thing could lenders do to improve brokers’ lives the most?

Adopt the latest technology faster. With open banking and fintech now very much at the forefront of our industry, there really isn’t any excuse for lenders to be a stick in the mud. Speed of service, more information for clients and transparency are all good things that technology can bring. Some of the software and subsequent link-up to it we’ve seen and engaged with recently is fantastic and very exciting. It makes our lives, and especially those of our clients, so much easier. Lenders are often the last to act.

What plans do you have for the future of your firm?

The future is bright for Sentry Advice! We are not only expanding our high street presence, with new offices due in the coming months, but have also flexed our specialist muscles by recently announcing our joint venture with Brightstar – one of the UK’s largest specialist finance partners. Sentry Lifetime, our lifetime mortgage specialist arm, offers mortgage brokers without the Equity Release qualification the opportunity to refer clients who may need our help while still earning a percentage of the procuration fee. These clients really need to be taken care of correctly and with the right advice, and we’re definitely the right business to help do that.

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